From bohemian to boutique Santiago’s neighborhoods offer varied experiences. Colorful budget options can be found in artsy Barrio Bella Vista near La Chascona, one of Pablo Nerudo’s playful residences. Providencia, in contrast, boasts European charm. For convenience on a quick stopover checkout the Holiday Inn at the airport terminal.
Providencia – Hotel Le Rêve
The stylish 28 room boutique hotel is located on a charming street in the heart of Providenica with quality restaurants within walking distance. Housed in a beautiful French style town house with ivy covered exterior walls, the place oozes elegance. We didn’t have a lot of time to experience many of their services such as an honor bar with snacks available in the lounge and more snacks available in the kitchen until midnight. They also have a lovely back patio.
Our room was upgraded to a suite, a true suite with a small sitting room with a couch and desk and a full sized bedroom down the hall with a comfortable bed. Everything was tastefully decorated as a French town house should be. The large bathroom had an oversized vanity and a separate toilet room. Amenities included a safe, minibar, hairdryer, etc. The towels were plush and sheets soft.
The breakfast buffet set up in the lounge has an extensive selection of hot and cold items, not as large as at the big business hotels, they only have 28 guest rooms, but still a variety of breads, cheese, cold cuts including smoked fish, cereal and yogurt, cut fruit, pastries, excellent scrambled eggs, crispy bacon (a rarity) and brewed coffee with hot milk available.
A scrumptious way to start or end a South American adventure, the stay was exactly as advertised, a quality French inspired experience in the heart of Santiago.
Diner at Aqui Esta Coco in Providencia
The high-end Chilean seafood restaurant was recommended by the desk clerk at Le Reve. The main dining room has super high ceilings and is decorated in a nautical theme with dark woods. There is also an upstairs area which I did not see and the cellar below.
While the cellar has a cozy vibe with stone walls room and dusty bottles of wine behind grates, they cram too many tables into the small space, making it much too loud. In addition they have some of the most ill-conceived dining tables imaginable with legs angled together in front of the diner such that the only comfortable way to sit was the man spread. Not great for women, especially in a dress.
The hotel made a 9PM reservation for us and the restaurant was busy when we arrived on the Thursday evening. Service was leisurely. The appetizer came quickly followed by a nice pause before the mains.
We started with pisco sours and the ceviche Enrique with octopus, shrimp smoked salmon and the fish of the day. Although a tasty and reasonably sized portion to share if you are not too hungry, having just arrived from Easter Island it didn’t wow. The preparation was saucier and the fish more marinated i.e., less raw than on the island.
Don’s conger pastelero was fresh and beautifully done. The eel was presented on a bed of choclo, a dense corn pudding of sorts, and garnished with cherry tomatoes.
The trout was just OK, a thin fillet of not the freshest fish topped with sautéed shrimp and mushrooms. We also ordered a side of sautéed vegetables which were nicely cooked but nothing special.
For dessert the lemon mousse hit the spot. Light and nicely tart.
Service was friendly and efficient. This is a fun event restaurant with good food, but stick to the sea fish and not the trout.
The typical business hotel with spacious comfortable rooms and good amenities located just across from the terminals is very convenient for incoming and outgoing flights. However the airport was under a major renovation during our stay so I don’t know how the new airport configuration will affect the hotels proximity to the terminals.
Lunch at the hotel was the worst meal of our trip. Craving a burger I ordered the American Cheese Burger. Everything was way undercooked – the French fries pale and limp, the meat barely warmed through, and the bacon soggy. Don’s Mediterranean salad was mostly lettuce with a few topping thrown on – shredded cheese, a few green olives, cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices. The chicken soup was ok but certainly not worth the price. With two draft beers the total came to more than $50USD.
After the expensive and undercooked lunch I was hesitant to try this restaurant again, but after not finding a better solution we tried again starting with drinks in their modern bar. Expensive but first rate with the best pisco sour I’ve had in Chile. Nicely crafted with real egg white froth and laced with the classic bitters garnish.
Dinner was also surprisingly good.
We started with ceviche – fresh tuna and a few shrimp garnished with toasted corn and avocado. They were out of the lamb cutlet so I opted for the stewed lamb shank – tender fall off the bone meat with a very mild flavor for lamb. The stew was flavorful but the potatoes grainy, most likely the result of the variety of potato used. Don’s grilled conger with grilled vegies was fresh and perfectly done. This is still an overpriced restaurant but at least the quality of food measures up to the quality of the hotel.
February – March, 2018
For links to the posts in this series visit the Lake District and Chiloé page.